Senior Thesis (PSYC 396)

What is it?

A senior thesis is a limited study examining a student's own researchable hypothesis in consultation with one or more department members. Students will meet regularly with their individual research supervisors to share progress reports, get help with problems, and so forth. Minimum requirements for all projects include: a final report in APA format, and presentation of the project at the annual undergraduate psychology conference; the advisor may, at his/her discretion, and depending upon the individual project, require additional conferences, oral reports, or other documentation.

What are the benefits?

The senior thesis can be taken for 1 to 4 credits depending upon the nature of the individual project and the student’s contractual arrangements with the faculty research supervisor. Four credit projects fulfill the senior psychology capstone requirement.

Who is eligible?

Junior and senior psychology majors who have completed research methods, have been admitted into the major, and have completed at least 20 credits in psychology. Students may enroll in senior thesis only during the fall semester and must have the signature of the senior thesis director prior to registering and again after completing the proposal and obtaining the proposal and obtaining the faculty moderator’s signature.

What do I need to do to take advantage of this opportunity?

Students considering signing up for senior thesis during a fall semester should meet with a faculty moderator during the previous spring, prior to registering for the course. The student must at least decide upon a general topic of interest and find a psychology faculty member willing to act as the student's research supervisor during the fall. Beyond a general topic of interest, it is even more desirable for the student to have some preliminary ideas about a specific question and a way to answer it. The student and the research supervisor together will come to an agreement on the number of credits a project is worth.

How is an Honors Thesis different from a Senior Thesis?

Although an Honors Thesis and a Senior Thesis both involve extensive research on an original research question and both fulfill the capstone requirement, the two opportunities have some key differences.

  • An Honor’s Thesis is through the honors department and completing the project with an “A” allows a student to graduate with distinction in the major. A Senior Thesis is through the department alone and is not associated with this graduation honor.
  • Students completing an Honors Thesis need to have a faculty supervisor and two faculty readers for their thesis. Students completing a Senior Thesis require only a single faculty supervisor.
  • Honors Thesis students are required to formally defend their thesis to their committee. This is not a requirement for the Senior Thesis although often students completing both types of projects make other presentations at small conferences such as MUPC or Scholarship and Creativity Day.

Click here to see the deadlines and requirements for both an Honors Thesis and a Senior Thesis.